fire ant

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How to get rid of fire ants

When you discover fire ants in your house, it can quickly incite panic. While fire ants can be dangerous and destructive, you've come to the right place. Ehrlich Pest Control can offer you expert fire ant control advice to keep you, your family, and your pets safe.

Getting rid of fire ants is a difficult task, especially using do-it-yourself methods. Your best defense against these pests is a trained pest control professional. Our specialists can provide effective treatments to eliminate a fire ant infestation and the fears that come with it.

Ehrlich Pest Control specialists can help you with fire ants and other pest problems you might have around your home or business. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get rid of fire ants and prevent them from coming back.

How to identify fire ants

There are a few different signs that could indicate that you have a fire ant infestation. Red imported fire ants are very small, and are a reddish/brown color. They usually prefer to stay outside, away from people and other disturbances inside homes. But sometimes their search for food leads them indoors. The tiniest of openings can grant them access to your home.

If you have red imported fire ants, you may see mounds in your yard that appear to be made of loose dirt. Be cautious of these mounds. Any perceived threat to the nest will send hundreds of any fire ants out of the mound to attack and defend.

In the event that you see red ants on your property, don't assume that what you're seeing are fire ants. There are over 700 species of ants in the United States and some, other than fire ants, are red. Fire ants can look a bit different than you might picture as well. Some can be black in color, especially the black male reproductives. To ensure that you are properly identifying the kind of ants you have, call on the help of a professional.

Types of fire ants

As previously mentioned, there are some red ant species that are often confused with fire ants, such as include Argentine ants and pharaoh ants. But aside from their coloring, fire ants can be identified by their 10-segmented antenna, spineless thorax, and protruding mandibles. Even with these characteristics, it can be quite difficult to identify fire ants without professional help. If in doubt, contact your local Ehrlich office for assistance.

There are two main fire ant species that cause problems in the United States: red imported fire ants (solenopsis invicta) and southern fire ants (solenopis xyloni).

Red imported fire ants

Red imported fire ants, also known as RIFA, can be found in Virginia and south through Florida. Introduced from central Brazil, RIFA have become a growing concern for homeowners as they are particularly destructive to vegitation and can build giant colonies of over 100,000 members. This is the kind of fire ant that forms a ball to float through flood waters.

Southern fire ants

Southern fire ants are active across the southern border of the U.S. from California to northern Florida. Their mounds can be found near trees. These ants prey on other pests, but are still considered a threat to humans due to their capacity to sting and damage properties.

Image: Michael Branstetter / ©

What attracts fire ants?

Fire ants are not a pest that you want coming your home or building. They can be quite aggressive pests, dangerous to those who come in contact with them, especially those with fire ant allergies.

Wondering what attracts fire ants? Here are some of the key attractants:

  • Untidy conditions - Fire ants are always on the look out for food. Food remains and accessible garbage around your home make for a great meal for these scavengers.  Be sure to clean up counters and floors, making sure any spills or crumbs have been eliminated.

  • Holes in exterior walls - Fire ants are very small, so it is easy for them to get inside through any hole in an exterior wall or cracks in siding or HVAC systems. Even openings in the walls for utility cables can leave enough space for a fire ant crawl through. Patching holes and installing door sweeps on exterior doors and garage doors can prevent fire ants from entering.

  • Food storage - Not only do fire ants want to find food for themselves, but they have to find enough to bring some back to the rest of the colony. Ensure that all food is sealed in airtight containers, especially food stored outdoors such as dog food. Don't give them a reason to keep coming back for more.

  • Excess moisture - Fire ants don’t require much soil to exist, but they do require a moisture source. When looking for such sources, fire ants can end up in places such as rooftops and wall voids. Make sure any leaks in your home are repaired around your home and that any external faucets are not dripping.

What's the problem with fire ants?

Fire ant stings

Fire ants bite before they sting. They use their mandibles to get a good grip, and then begin to repeatedly plunge their stinger into the victim. The strong venom from a fire ant sting often produces a burning feeling in those that are stung. Fire ant stings may also cause swelling and itching. Usually, a puss-filled blister will appear at the site of the sting and will remain there for several days. Those with a fire ant allergy may experience more severe symptoms such as anaphylaxis. In the case of serious allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.

Vegitation Destruction

According to a 2006 report from the by Texas A&M University and the United States Department of Agriculture, red imported fire ants are responsible for more than $6 billion in damage each year. Since they were brought U.S. in the 1930s, RIFA have had an increasingly negative impact on the agriculture industry, destroying crops and ruining natural wildlife habitats.

Electrical malfunctions

Fire ants are attracted to electrical machinery, from air conditioners to traffic lights. When they receive an electrical shock, they release their defensive pheromone, which attracts even more fire ants. The fire ants chew on insulation within the units, which can cause short circuits. They also move soil into electrical units when nesting, causing corrosion and other issues.  

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Fire ant treatments

In the early summer, fire ant colonies are in a growth phase. Because of this, early summer is the best time to treat for them - before the colonies grow even larger. However, because of their tendency to attack in mass, it can be unsafe to attempt to treat fire ant mounds on your own. Rely on a trained pest control professional to get rid of the infestation safely.

The only thing better than having a trustworthy pest company by your side to control your fire ant problems is to avoid fire ant infestations altogether. One of the most effective ways to do so is to have a home treatment applied early in the season. This way, you'll stay ahead of any impending infestations.

Ehrlich pest specialists are experts in helping get rid of many different kinds of pests, including fire ants. We live and work in the area, so you can set your mind at ease, knowing we have the localized experience to make your pest problem a thing of the past. Contact us to discover how Ehrlich can help get rid of fire ants or provide preventative treatments to keep your family safe all year round.

Fire ant control near you

Fire ants are very common in the southern United States, especially in states such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Because climates are relatively warm and damp throughout the year, the conditions are perfect for fire ants. Luckily, Ehrlich Pest Control's local experts are just a call away. They can get rid of fire ants and prevent them from returning. If you're experiencing a problem with fire ants on your property, give us a call at 800-837-5520 to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

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